"I'm not going to be petty, but there's been a lot of things said about what I bring to the locker room" Nets guard Kyrie Irving says he has a great relationship with his teammates
"I'm there every day. There has been no issues [with Kyrie]. ... This group has embraced Kyrie, Kyrie has embraced them." — @sarahkustok
Earlier this week, ESPN published a story about Irving, Durant and DeAndre Jordan joining the Nets that reported the team is already concerned over Irving’s moodiness, including an episode in which Irving was quiet and withdrawn while the Nets were in China. Sources close to Irving expressed frustration with the report, especially since he is trying to not make the focus this season about what he says and does when he isn’t on the court.
You want to know Kyrie Irving’s reaction to an ESPN article on his mood swings, and how they’ve left the Nets “queasy?” The star guard doesn’t. Doesn’t give a damn what ESPN or The Post or anybody else writes or thinks or says. He’s going to do him. “Human beings have mood swings. You go home and you’re not happy with things or mad about something, that’s a mood swing. It’s OK to be human,” Irving said Wednesday night. “I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public so I’m not here to dispel any perception. I’m just here to be myself.”
It came two days after an ESPN article detailing his mood swings and the worries they are causing the Nets. Coach Kenny Atkinson vehemently denied the article Tuesday at practice and again before Wednesday night’s game. “No, that thing is two things. I’ll double-down, or triple-down on what I said. That’s where I am,” said Atkinson, who added he didn’t feel the need to address Irving about the story. “As far as that, I know all these elite players, not just Kyrie, they’re used to the scrutiny and that’s just part of the business. That’s just what it is. I didn’t feel the need to talk to him about it.”
Asked by Mina Kimes Wednesday about whether Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson were committed to integrating the two into the Nets culture, MacMullan replied that Marks has a great luxury going forward ... one Atkinson may not have. “Well, I think Sean is determined to do it. You know for him it’s all about communications and trust and that’s what they built their team on. And he’s going to keep plowing away at it. You know Kenny doesn’t have that luxury. He doesn’t have time, right? He’s gotta win games. He’s gotta get these guys on the same page.”
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jay Williams, speaking with Max Kellerman, said he’d spoken with Marks and that the Nets GM had confirmed one of the key incidents MacMullan mentioned in her story: that Irving had declined to take off his (Nets) cap during a photo shoot atop the Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai. “He did not want to take his hat off,” said Williams. “He did ask them to photoshop that. Bottom line for the ESPN commentator? “Look on the big scale of things, I think this is not a concern. All the players and the team seem to be on same page.”
Kevin Durant has no regrets about joining the Nets, even in the wake of a controversial report that said his pal Kyrie Irving’s “mood swings” are causing Nets officials agita. “Relax mcnabb,” Durant tweeted Tuesday when former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb mused, “with everything starting to come out with [Kyrie Irving] and the [Nets], when will [Durant] realize maybe I should’ve stayed in Golden State? Boy I’ve seen this happen before.”
Jordan, Irving's close friend, had a lighthearted response when asked about the report. "Kyrie's a bad guy, he's terrible, he's moody, I don't like to be around him," he said, facetiously. Jordan later added: "I feel like we're all competitive, everybody in the world goes through mood swings. It's a part of life and human nature. I just don't think it should be targeted at one person …. It's not affecting our team. I think Kyrie's a great guy, I don't think Kyrie's done anything negative. Anything that I've seen that he's done. And he's a friend of mine. So if he was, I would tell him."
Following Tuesday’s practice, Jordan also had Irving’s back. “I think that Kyrie’s a great guy,” Jordan told reporters. “I don’t think that there’s anything negative that I’ve seen that he’s done. And he’s a friend of mine, so if it was, I would tell him.”
James Herbert: DeAndre, sarcastically: "Kyrie’s a bad guy. He’s terrible. He’s moody. I don’t like to be around him. He’s horrible in the locker room. He’s a selfish player. I don’t like his haircut. I wear his shoes only because they’re comfortable and because he makes me. Is that good?"
Ian Begley: Spencer Dinwiddie was asked about ESPN’s Nets story that stated Kyrie Irving’s mood swings are an unspoken concern among team officials. He said Irving has been great as a teammate and anyone who has those issues should address Irving directly.
There were endless conversations about basketball, including how LeBron James had orchestrated his own "friend group" in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that yielded two titles. One of the final nights on the Silver Cloud, as Ky, KD and DJ clinked glasses, Jordan recalls Irving saying, "Hey, this would be cool to do for real." "I asked him, 'What you mean by that?'" Jordan says, "and Ky said, 'Let's all get on the same team and play together.'"
All three initially raised an eyebrow upon learning of Brooklyn's daily routine -- a two-hour time commitment that begins before practice even starts. Players receive a text informing them when their "table time" is scheduled. That includes 30 minutes with a massage therapist, physical therapist, or both, depending on what ails them that day. From there, players spend 30 minutes in the weight room, then move to the court for individual training. "Our whole setup can be a bit rigid," Atkinson says. "We're like a college program, in some ways. We have this car wash of very specific things with very specific people.
Durant says that for most NBA veterans, their training regimen is sacred. It's what reinforces their greatness, and their commitment. "It's going to have to be a give and take," Durant says. "At this point of our careers, we have routines. At the same time, I want to learn what they're about. We have to be willing to meet halfway."
Yet Irving's infamous mood swings, confirmed by his ex-teammates, which followed him from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, are the unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy. When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and sometimes, even his teammates.
Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn's trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it. There's hope that Durant will be able to coax his friend into a better frame of mind. But when presented with that scenario, KD says he will be hands off.
There has already been leeway to allow Irving to march to his own drum. The Nets are willing to look past moments like the photo shoot at the Pearl TV Tower in China, when Irving refused to remove his hat and instructed them to photoshop it out. They will focus more on the bigger issue of sharing the ball and maintaining good team chemistry.
Brian Lewis: Brook Lopez: "“I think it’s kind of natural. We’ve gotten a little complacent. Like I’ve been alluding to, it starts with me." #Nets
Losing can get to anyone. With the worst record in the league coming into New Year’s Eve, the Nets have done more losing than just about anybody. So it is not shocking frustrations mounted on the court during Friday’s game at Washington and in the locker room after yet another lopsided defeat. “It was in the locker room. We handled it. It’s important we all have respect for each other and also have the ability to hold each other accountable,’’ Brook Lopez said of the flared tempers, first reported by The Post. “It was just frustrating. It was emotional and a frustrating game, and guys were just venting. I don’t know what was necessarily correct or who said what, but the important thing is it happened.
“I don’t think conflict is bad. I’m not going to have a team meeting because a couple of guys were bickering. I’m a coach who embraces conflict. We have conflict in the video room, and we have brutal ones at times. “The fact they have conflict with each other, it’s not the end of the world. I’m glad they talked about it just like any family would when you get into an argument with your brother, sister or wife. Out of all that, it comes out that we can get better. Those moments of conflicts that can make you better.”
June 28, 2022 | 9:57 am EDT Update
The New York Knicks have had exploratory discussions on trading center Nerlens Noel to the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told HoopsHype. Noel could fit into the Clippers’ $9.7 million trade exception previously generated by the Serge Ibaka trade. The Knicks have a surplus of draft pick compensation (22 picks total over the next seven years) to dangle.
This would seem to end the Irving drama for the Nets, at least for now, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst says people around the NBA are skeptical. On the latest episode of The Hoop Collective pod, Windy revealed what he has been hearing on this situation after Kyrie’s decision (h/t RealGM): “I think it turned down the heat in at least kept the Nets with two star players, with all of their options for next year alive,” said Brian Windhorst. “And, boy, was that not what some people, agents and executives thought. They don’t think this is over. “Now, Kyrie tried to make it sound like it was over. ‘I’ll see you in the fall’ sounds like it’s over.”
Windy went on to say that Irving did not tell the Nets about his decision before it went public. He also reiterated that people around the league don’t really believe Kyrie is actually all in: “I don’t know if anything has changed,” said Windhorst. “The people I talk to in the league are skeptical that Kyrie is going to be all for one and one for all on this.”
Something important to consider is that Irving’s stature around the league should improve from its current state if he can stay healthy in 2022-23. After all, the seven-time All-Star tied a career-high with 27.4 points per game in just 29 contests last season and did so at roughly the same efficiency as the rest of his career. Anything close to a full season could remind the basketball world what Irving can do on the court, even at 30 years old, which could propel him to a longer tenure in Brooklyn or a more significant long-term commitment from another franchise than he received over the last few weeks. No matter what, it will be simultaneously fascinating and significant for both the league landscape and the future of the Brooklyn Nets.
Warriors center Kevon Looney played in 104 combined games from the regular season through the NBA Finals for the Warriors. Now, the ironman could nearly double his salary close to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception this offseason. According to six NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype, Looney could command $9 million annually in free agency.
Following a breakout season where Gary Payton II solidified himself as an NBA rotation player and stout on-ball defender, he’s expected to earn a sizable pay raise this offseason. Payton II is projected to earn $6-7 million annually, according to six NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype. That figure would put him in range for the taxpayer mid-level exception for several teams across the league.
As a contingency plan, the Detroit Pistons discussed offering a future first-round pick and an additional future second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 14th pick if Detroit couldn’t select Jalen Duren with the 13th overall pick in a separate trade with the Charlotte Hornets, league sources told HoopsHype.